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Orlando Pirates’ struggles in the league continue as they’re held by Polokwane City

Given Mashikinya of Polokwane City is challenged by Thabiso Monyane of Orlando Pirates during their DStv Premiership match

Given Mashikinya of Polokwane City is challenged by Thabiso Monyane of Orlando Pirates during their DStv Premiership match at Orlando Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg on Friday. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published Oct 27, 2023


So much for claiming that they can still challenge for the DStv Premiership title, Orlando Pirates are now winless in their last three games in the league.

Pirates are on a three-game winless run in the league after being held to a 1-1 draw by Polokwane City at a windy Orlando Stadium on Friday night.

This was a point gained for Polokwane who are having a dream return to the top-flight as they are fourth on the log and in the Carling Knockout quarter-final.

For Pirates, though, it was two points dropped given that coach Jose Riveiro continues to claim that they are still in the title despite their inconsistent start.

Pirates, who only have a game in hand and trail log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns by 15 points, led first through Patrick Maswanganyi before Given Mashikinya’s equaliser.

Riveiro and his right-hand man Sergio Almenara had made a bold entrance before the game, becoming the first personnel from the team to come out of the tunnel.

But despite that feat, the Buccaneers nearly fell behind as early as the 10th minute as Hlayisi Chauke forced Melusi Buthulezi into a brilliant save.

Buthelezi’s save with his feet didn’t only keep Pirates in the game, but it settled his nerves as he got a standing ovation in his first starting debut at home.

And having come into this match with two clean sheets, Pirates’ outfield players had to do their bit, by scoring goals and defending, in search of a third in a row.

By half-time, his teammates seemed to have heeded the call – they were a goal up after Maswangayi broke their two game goalless run in the league.

Maswanganyi’s goal came after a quick one-and-twos between him and Thembinkosi Lorch in the 39th minute as he side-footed a hard and low shot past Manuel Sapunga.

But while that settled their nerves, Pirates had struggled to score at their own accord and to some impressive defence from Rise and Shine in the early stages.

The return of Lorch for Pirates is creating a lot of options for the team as he can link with Maswanganyi and Makgopa who can also hold up play for his team.

But while Pirates were able to get behind City’s defence, that didn’t bear fruit even before Sapunga, Lebohang Nkaki and Tholo Matuludi made some daring stops.

The Ethiopian-born goalkeeper parried away Karim Kimvuidi’s shot before Nkaki and Matuludi cleared off the line Lorch’s free-kick and Olisa Ndah’s header respectively.

And in search of a steady lead, Riveiro rang the changes in the second half, introducing last season’s playmaker Monnapule Saleng for Kimvuidi.

But by the time Saleng could even try to make an impact, Rise and Shine pounced when few expected as Given Mashikinya unleashed a piercing effort past Buthelezi.

It was as if the winds that were blowing here carried good deeds for the team up north as they threatened to score with every counter-attacking move.

But that's how things ended as the two teams settled for a draw. They'll now turn their focus to the Carling last eight as Pirates will visit Richards Bay on Saturday and Polokwane will host Stellenbosch on Friday.

IOL Sport